Last night’s Cowboys-Cardinals game was easily the most-watched Monday night game of the season so far, and through four games Monday Night Football ratings are up over last season.
Cowboys-Cardinals got a 9.3 overnight rating for ESPN, easily the highest-rated Monday night game of the year. That came despite some talk that the controversy surrounding players kneeling during the national anthem would depress NFL ratings.
The 9.3 overnight rating is way up from last year’s Week Three Monday night game, although last year’s game was played at the same time as a presidential debate, so the Week Three 2017 vs. Week Three 2016 comparison is flawed.
A better measurement is that the four Monday Night Football games so far this season have averaged a 7.8 overnight rating, compared to a 6.5 overnight rating for the first four Monday Night Football games last season. And even if you throw out the game that went up against the debate last year, Monday Night Football is up year to date over the 2016 average.
For the weekend as a whole, ESPN and CBS were up, NBC and FOX were down, and on aggregate ratings across the NFL were up about 3 percent from Week Three last year. So there’s no reason to believe that the national anthem controversy hurt the NFL in the ratings department.